FBR uncovers withholding tax evasion in the property sector

The FBR tax office in Sargodha recently uncovers withholding tax evasion in Punjab’s property registration sector. As per a report on December 18, an electronic audit by the regional tax office revealed a substantial evasion of withholding taxes. On property transactions, amounting to billions that were collected but never deposited into the national treasury. The RTO in Sargodha, responsible for the audit, successfully recovered over PKR 388 million from defaulters, shedding light on the scale of financial irregularities.

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Moreover, this complex scheme involved a coordinated group comprising Punjab property registrars, revenue officers, and lawyers. Their failure to deposit the deducted withholding taxes from property transactions led to significant revenue losses.

The digital audit highlighted the use of fake challans in collaboration with buyers and sellers, further exacerbating substantial revenue loss. This revelation comes amid a staggering 340.5% increase in withholding tax collection from immovable property sales during the fiscal year 2022-23 compared to the previous year, reaching PKR 70.326 billion in 2022-23 from Rs 15.966 billion in 2021-22.

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Furthermore, the FBR investigation, led by Chief Commissioner Dr. Faheem Muhammad and Withholding Zone Commissioner Raja Babar Nawaz, revealed the involvement of property registrars, sub-registrar offices, lawyers, and regional revenue officers in fraudulent activities, resulting in billions in lost revenue. Also, FBR uncovers all 17 sub-registrar offices that participated in retaining the withheld taxes on immovable properties.

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